We all love the convenience of online shopping and the door-to-door delivery service that is part of that experience. According to the Census Bureau’s 2020 Annual Retail Trade Survey, in 2019, people spent more than $512 billion on e-commerce sales. The following year that amount jumped to over $815 billion – an increase of more than 43%. And with the pandemic in full swing, in-person shopping was severely limited, and people relied on delivery services for much of what they needed.
This put an increased load on local, state, and national roadways and increased pressure on drivers that deliver those goods. The big 18-wheel vehicles and smaller vans employed by carriers like FedEx may present a danger to other drivers. With these trucks on the road more often today, you may be wondering what to do if a FedEx truck hits your car.
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How does an auto accident differ from an accident involving a FedEx truck accident?
In most fender-benders, one car hits another and, when there are no significant injuries, the drivers will simply get out of their vehicles and exchange information, perhaps take photos of the accident site and cars involved and go on to contact their insurance companies to file a claim. However, if you are involved in an accident with a commercial driver, you can expect they will immediately call their employer’s dispatch person to report the incident and discuss what they should do or are allowed to do. These drivers will be instructed not to make any comments that could be construed as an admission of guilt. You are not going to get far with these guys simply by exchanging insurance cards.
FedEx currently has over 87,000 vehicles on the road. The gross weight of these carriers, trucks, or vans including cargo can range anywhere from a few tons to over 25,000 lbs. The size and weight differences between a large commercial FedEx vehicle and a passenger vehicle are very significant, which means that there is a very real possibility of loss or severe injury or death if a crash were to occur.
Who Is Responsible?
In a typical car accident, liability is assigned to the driver that caused the accident. Often there is shared liability between the parties involved, meaning each driver was, to some degree, negligent in their driving behavior and therefore has some share of liability. In an accident involving a FedEx driver, you can hold the truck driver liable, but you can also make a claim with FedEx because they are responsible for accidents their drivers cause while working. This is called “vicarious liability” and means you can sue both the driver and the company for your costs from the accident, so long as the driver caused the accident while acting within the scope of his employment.
This can be good news if you have injuries or damages, as employers usually have better insurance than the driver. Unfortunately, it also means dealing with a large trucking company and experienced insurance company.
How to Prove FedEx Is Liable for the Accident?
The first step is proving the driver was negligent. This might involve establishing:
- The driver violated hours of service laws. Drivers are only permitted to drive for a specified number of hours in a 24-hour period. If the driver operated the truck for longer than those hours, it should be easy to demonstrate that they were fatigued and caused the accident. Your attorney can obtain the logbooks to determine how many hours the driver had been behind the wheel.
- The driver was texting while driving. It is illegal for truck drivers, or any other driver, to text while operating a vehicle. If the driver was texting or talking on the phone, your attorney can subpoena the driver’s phone records to prove it.
- The driver was speeding or swerving or acting in some other recklessly manner.
What if FedEx Claims the Driver is an Independent Contractor?
This is a common tactic used by FedEx to remove themselves from any liability finding. The company will claim that the driver was not an employee, but rather an independent contractor, and therefore, the driver is solely responsible for the damages resulting from the accident – not the company. Your attorney can obtain and review personnel files to determine the driver’s employment status.
What if Another Party is to Blame for the Accident with a FedEx Truck?
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident, there may be other parties that contributed to the accident and therefore have at least some degree of liability. These parties might include:
- Another driver: If another driver behaved negligently, your attorney would gather evidence to prove the driver’s negligence and recover compensation from their insurance company.
- A manufacturer: If the accident resulted from a defective truck part, your attorney would take the necessary steps to hold the manufacturer liable.
- A mechanic: If poor maintenance caused the accident, your attorney may be able to prove this and hold the mechanic liable. FedEx might still be liable if the accident resulted from a lack of maintenance.
- A shipping company: If unsecured or poorly loaded cargo contributed to the accident, the shipper or cargo loader might be liable.
Accidents involving FedEx vehicles can be complicated
As you can see, if you have been in an accident involving a FedEx truck, how you handle the incident is more complicated than the simple fender-bender you may have experienced in the past. Commercial drivers must comply with stringent regulations, as well as carry higher insurance policy limits. There is a greater expectation that commercial drivers will be safe when operating their vehicles. The companies have a battery of attorneys and accountants only interested in protecting their company’s financial position.
Contact Us Today
Having a knowledgeable, trusted personal injury attorney working for you can make the difference in ensuring you get full compensation for your injuries and damages. Your attorney will know where to find the evidence you need to support your claim.
At Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., we listen to you and want to hear your story!
When you contact us, we will take the time to get to know you and understand all the ways your life has been affected by your accident. We pride ourselves on being empathetic, compassionate, and caring. This is just one of the reasons we are Florida’s top-rated personal injury attorneys – providing personalized legal advice addressed to meet your individual needs. We build trust through open, timely communication, and straightforward legal advice. We are an award-winning, established personal injury law firm, fighting for our clients for over 60 years.
From the first call, you will know that we will be there with you, helping you to navigate through what can be a complex, difficult, and emotionally challenging time. We strive to provide you with all the information and resources you need. We are dedicated to making your life easier. From start to finish, we will promptly answer all your questions and provide the best legal advice, so you can make informed decisions about your future.
Contact us today and we will fight to get the results you deserve.